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Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 5 - Women's Review

A lightweight shoe designed for non-technical trails and roads.
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Price:  $110 List | $76.97 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Inexpensive, responsive & comfortable cushioning, great for non-technical surfaces, breathable
Cons:  Lacks an aggressive outsole, unstable, non-specific fit
Manufacturer:   Nike
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 29, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Foot protection - 20% 6
  • Sensitivity - 20% 9
  • Traction - 15% 4
  • Stability - 15% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 7
  • Weight - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Nike Wildhorse Zoom 5 features an 8mm drop with responsive foam and a protective rock plate loaded into its midsole. The toe box has a tapered design that best works for those with a narrow or regular foot and, unfortunately, doesn't offer the best toe splay. While the waffle-designed outsole is great for tackling flatter surfaces, it doesn't work well on technical trails or sloppy surfaces. Its cousin, the Nike Air Zoom Terra Kiger 5, offers a more aggressive outsole and lighter design that may be more amenable for all-around functionality. However, if you're just looking for a non-technical trail shoe that can cross-over for great road performance, this one should be considered. We also love the price!


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Nike Wildhorse Zoom 5 is a lightweight shoe that offers more protection for heel-strikers, and is best used as a shoe to either wear around town or take on dirt roads. It is comfortable and responsive but needs work on its stability.

Performance Comparison


A look at the low-profile Wildhorse that feels like you're bouncing on cushions of air.
A look at the low-profile Wildhorse that feels like you're bouncing on cushions of air.

Foot Protection


The foot protection is just okay in this shoe, protecting you from trail hazards that you might encounter on your adventure. The main form of protection comes in the midsole containing responsive cushioning and a rock plate. It is stacked with 28mm of cushioning in the heel with 20 mm in the forefoot. The cushioning itself is airy and responsive, wrapping itself around less obtrusive trail hazards that you might find.

As you can see  the cushioning is just enough to offer good protection. Since it is harder and more 'airy' it pushes you along with minimal effort. The shoe also integrates a rock plate for added protection.
As you can see, the cushioning is just enough to offer good protection. Since it is harder and more 'airy' it pushes you along with minimal effort. The shoe also integrates a rock plate for added protection.

The upper mesh is well designed, keeping out fine particulates that you might encounter in clay or sand-laden soils in the desert. The upper wraps the foot, keeping all of this stuff out. The upper also has a water-resistant overlay that does a decent job wicking water around the perimeter of the shoe body.

The upper mesh is breathable with an overlay that offers some level of water resistance  though the shoe is far from waterproof.
The upper mesh is breathable with an overlay that offers some level of water resistance, though the shoe is far from waterproof.

However, the upper material itself is more absorbent, which we learned on a trail run after rains left some puddles on the trail. The toe cap is super flexible, so it doesn't offer a whole lot of protection from stubbed toes, unfortunately. Overall, foot protection is just okay.

Sensitivity


This shoe offers a good level of sensitivity, allowing you to feel the trail well. The foam used is more responsive, so it does protect from this sensitivity more in comparison to thinner designs.

The thinner sole offers sensitivity in the forefoot. The integrated rock plate helps to distribute direct impacts evenly throughout the bottom of the shoe.
The thinner sole offers sensitivity in the forefoot. The integrated rock plate helps to distribute direct impacts evenly throughout the bottom of the shoe.

Traction


We don't like the traction of this shoe. The waffle-like design easily gets debris and mud stuck between the lugs, and the lugs themselves don't grab the trail very well.

The waffle-like pattern offers enough traction on most trails but lacks a trail bitting grip on steep slopes and sloppy terrain. The lugs are spaced close together which causes debris and mud to get stuck in between  limiting the overall traction.
The waffle-like pattern offers enough traction on most trails but lacks a trail bitting grip on steep slopes and sloppy terrain. The lugs are spaced close together which causes debris and mud to get stuck in between, limiting the overall traction.

On a recent steep run, we found ourselves slipping all over the place while heading uphill on a gravel-laden trail. The outsole does stick well to wet surfaces, but we deem it best for non-technical surfaces due to this experience.


Stability


While we originally thought this shoe would show great stability, but we were surprised when it didn't perform well in this metric. It has a higher heel-toe drop (8 mm), which almost pushes you forward; this would normally be okay if the toe box was a little wider. Unfortunately, it constricts at the top, causing our toes to feel cramped. This resulted in less balance from the "pushing" force behind. The shoe is also not very flexible, so it doesn't wrap around trail hazards easily, causing some instability and a need for attention upon landing.

The lacing system does attach to the body of the shoe  wrapping your foot. However  the narrower heel and stack height makes this shoe feel tippy. It would be improved by a wider base.
The lacing system does attach to the body of the shoe, wrapping your foot. However, the narrower heel and stack height makes this shoe feel tippy. It would be improved by a wider base.

Comfort & Fit


In general, comfort elements are pretty awesome, but the fit is finicky. The foam is ultra-responsive, the materials are smooth and comfortable against the skin, and it's comfortable to wear simply as a shoe for work or around town all day.

The collar is comfortable around the foot  locking in the heel. The outsole is somewhat breathable but offers more protection around the perimeter of the midsole.
The collar is comfortable around the foot, locking in the heel. The outsole is somewhat breathable but offers more protection around the perimeter of the midsole.

The fit is best for a narrow to regular sized foot. While the toe box does feel a little wide, it tapers to a point at the top, which causes some squish. There is a little support under the arch, but the shoe is best for a neutral fit. The lacing system is pretty non-specific and doesn't totally lock the foot down, which affects stability and protection. Overall, comfort and fit are about average, with the comfort elements being a little above average.

While the toe box does offer some affinity for toe splay  our toes still feel a little cramped. It does best for a narrow or regular width foot.
While the toe box does offer some affinity for toe splay, our toes still feel a little cramped. It does best for a narrow or regular width foot.

Weight


This is a lightweight shoe weighing just 9.0 oz for a size nine. This makes it light enough to wear all day. It's also a favorite amongst our testers as a racing shoe or its weightless construction.

A lightweight size nine shoe.
A lightweight size nine shoe.

Value


The Wildhorse offers a promising value and one that is nearly worthy of an award. However, the Wildhorse fell short in a few metrics and landed toward the bottom of the pack in overall performance. In general, it's not as durable, so don't expect to get 500+ miles out of it. Those that would find the most value are ladies who prefer lightweight performance and don't need an aggressive outsole. A perfect ride for less technical trails littered with rocks and dirt.

Prancer waits while we trot through a less technical trail simply littered with some rocks and fallen debris from the Winter months. On the uphill  we found ourselves slipping out so we'd recommend it for rolling terrain that lacks steep climbs.
Prancer waits while we trot through a less technical trail simply littered with some rocks and fallen debris from the Winter months. On the uphill, we found ourselves slipping out so we'd recommend it for rolling terrain that lacks steep climbs.

Conclusion


The Nike Wildhorse Zoom 5 offers a comfortable ride that is best for non-technical terrain and dirt roads. It performs well on zoomy track and hard-packed trails where you might encounter a few trail hazards.

A comfortable ride that does well on non-technical terrain.
A comfortable ride that does well on non-technical terrain.


Amber King